Tom Brady and the New England Patriots produced a stirring comeback to reach the Super Bowl for a 10th time with a 24-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game.
Jacksonville, having stunningly knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional round, dominated an absorbing contest at Gillette Stadium for long periods and led 14-3 at one point in the first half.
The Jaguars held a 20-10 advantage in the fourth quarter and, with tight end Rob Gronkowski out with a concussion, Jacksonville appeared in prime position to pull off a staggering upset.
But the 40-year-old Brady, whose condition throughout the week had been the subject of much speculation after injuring his hand in practice, led the Patriots all the way back, producing a recovery akin to the 25-point turnaround he pulled off in Super Bowl LI.
First he capped an eight-play drive with a nine-yard strike to Danny Amendola and, after a quick three-and-out and short Jacksonville punt that was returned well into Jaguars territory by Amendola, the same receiver produced a magnificent catch at the back of the endzone to complete a remarkable revival.
Brady completed all six of his passes on the Patriots' opening drive, but they were restricted to a 31-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal after a third-down sack from Dante Fowler.
But from then on Jacksonville took control, quarterback Blake Bortles leading touchdown drives that were finished off by a four-yard pass to Marcedes Lewis and a four-yard run by Leonard Fournette.
Hope for New England came as running back Dion Lewis crossed for a score following a contentious pass interference penalty on A.J. Bouye on the drive that saw Gronkowski concussed on a hit from Barry Church.
A pair of second-half Josh Lambo field goals nudged Jacksonville further ahead and, when Myles Jack forced and recovered a Lewis fumble, the Jaguars would have been forgiven for thinking their job was almost done.
Jacksonville could not capitalise on that turnover and then allowed Brady to convert on third-and-18 with a 21-yard throw to Amendola, who cut the gap to seven before a leaping acrobatic grab put the Patriots in the lead for good.
The Jaguars still had time to respond but a fourth-down pass from Bortles to Dede Westbrook was brilliantly broken up by Stephon Gilmore, with Lewis then converting a key third down for New England that allowed them to run out the clock and put Brady a win away from becoming the first player to win six Super Bowl titles.
|Central Coast Mariners 1 Wellington Phoenix 0: Hosts end 11-match winless run|
|Arsenal handed tough Milan test in Europa League´s round of 16|
|Europa League: Last-16 draw in full|
|I am the lion of the jungle - Wilder ready to pounce on Ortiz|
|Vitolo apologises for sexist ´joke´ after Atletico win|
|Paletta joins Jiangsu Suning|
|Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar are the only superstars, says Pele|
|Rebels capitalise on Higginbotham red, Highlanders beat Blues in thriller|
|Arsenal have ´unfinished business´ in EFL Cup after 2011 loss - Wilshere|
|Srna given 17-month doping ban|
|Winter Olympics 2018: Larocque apologises for silver-medal snub|
|Arsenal boss Wenger backs Wilshere after Keane rant|
|Basque police express ´dismay´ at death of officer after fan violence|
|Jones was alarmed by England´s lack of fitness|
|Wembley hero Ramsey winning race to face Manchester City|
|McLaren launch new-look MCL33|
|EFL Cup final: Bravo and Ospina pitch to be heroes before stepping back into the shadows|
|The Breakdown: A statistical look at round three of the Six Nations|
|EFL Cup final: Wenger aiming for another glorious Wembley outing|
|Ligament damage but no surgery for Lynn|
|Wizards upstage new-look Cavs, Westbrook hits buzzer-beater|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Guadalajara poised for quarters, Red Bulls draw|
|Del Potro stunned by Tiafoe at Delray Beach Open|
|Bouchard lawyer satisfied after jury rules against USTA|
|´Enough is enough, we gotta take action´ - Panthers´ Luongo on gun control|
|Former NBA pair help Brazil stay perfect in World Cup qualifying|
|Keane: Wilshere is the most over-rated player on the planet|
|Monfils wins rain-interrupted clash against top seed Cilic|
|Earnhardt says short-track speed skating is ´NASCAR on ice´|
|My knee flared up – Wawrinka reveals reason for retirement|
|Stoger: Dortmund were lucky to survive Atalanta scare|
|Gattuso hopes to continue as AC Milan boss|
|Europa League Review: Arsenal survive scare, Dortmund battle past Atalanta|
|Noren, Simpson share Honda Classic lead after Tiger shoots 70|
|´Complacent´ Arsenal had no ideas, Wenger admits|
|Wilshere pulls no punches after Arsenal´s Ostersunds defeat|
|Batshuayi accuses Atalanta fans of racism|
|Mercedes not responsible for spoiling F1 spectacle, Wolff claims|
|Veteran kicker Vinatieri signs with Colts for further year|
|More injury woe as Wawrinka retires from Open 13 Marseille|
|Villarreal defender Semedo charged with attempted murder|
|West Indies taking nothing for granted in World Cup qualifying|
|Police officer dies after clashes between Athletic Bilbao and Spartak Moscow fans|
|Atalanta 1 Borussia Dortmund 1 (3-4 agg): Returning Schmelzer strikes late|
|AC Milan 1 Ludogorets 0 (4-0 agg): Borini strike secures victory at San Siro|
|Arsenal 1 Ostersunds 2 (4-2 agg): Gunners through despite Emirates shock|
|Kerber back in the top 10 where she belongs, Schuttler proclaims|
|Simeone open to Carrasco, Torres exits amid CSL reports|
|Mancini: Zenit not Europa League contenders|
|Confident Kerber enjoying ´fresh start´ after downing Pliskova|
|Honda Classic grind ´like playing a British Open´, says Woods|
|Europa League Review: Napoli´s comeback in vain, Immobile sends Lazio through|
|Ferdinand has doubts over Kane´s Tottenham future|
|Zenit 3 Celtic 0 (3-1 agg): Ivanovic inspires second-leg turnaround|
|Atletico Madrid 1 Copenhagen 0 (5-1 agg): Gameiro ensures Simeone´s men cruise through|
|Six Nations 2018: Owen Farrell ´jumping out of his skin´ to face Scotland, Eddie Jones says|
|Why De Gea really is untouchable as the Premier League´s best goalkeeper|
|Woods, Thomas start strong at Honda Classic|
|Farrell ´jumping out of his skin´ to face Scotland, says Jones|
|I wouldn´t sell him - Arbeloa wants Bale to remain at Real Madrid|
|Two Grand Slams and 2,253 points scored - Gatland´s 100 Wales matches in Opta numbers|
|Leeds United delay reveal of new club crest|
|Guti urges Neymar to leave PSG for Real Madrid|
|Bottas: I can beat Hamilton to F1 title|
|Vettel and Ferrari ´fired up´ for 2018 after unveiling SF71H|
|Azpilicueta: Chelsea must be perfect to beat Barcelona|
|Rai´s big finish ensures three-way tie in Qatar|
|Roma star Under tipped to win Ballon d´Or before 2023|
|WATCH: Snedeker splashes around for a soggy six at Honda Classic|
|Hamilton says Vettel rivalry ´could be worse´ in 2018|